How has Google helped to enhance collaboration in, and beyond, the classroom? The possibilities may seem endless. Google has been providing tools for business, personal and education uses for many years. Recently however, they made a move to bundle many of their applications into a format now known as G suite. While there are certain costs associated with using some of these tools for business, this is not the case for Education. In reality, this is more of a “repackaging” of products. Google is calling this G Suite for K12 Institutions.
With their core products like Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google slides, teachers have been working to enhance their practices using these tools. Now however, we are seeing how Google products are helping to make learning a global phenomena and not just a local one.
Why? Well the answer is quite simple. In todays tech driven world, we want our students to be career and college ready. No better way than to have our students using many of the tools of productivity they most likely will be using when doing professional work. As technology has helped to make the world feel “smaller”, tech in the classroom has helped student learning grow “larger”.
Who? Students that perhaps have felt disconnected in their own classroom can now feel connected across diverse geographic locations. Students who have not necessarily had a voice are now given the chance to “speak” to a broader audience in new and exciting ways. Students that have not had experiences beyond their local communities can now see and engage using tools that help to transport them to all areas of our planet. Students with learning disabilities can more easily engage with other students, with the material they are using and feel empowered in ways that they may not have felt previously.
Possible lesson ideas:
1) Suppose you are in Seattle and you are studying geography and topography in National Parks and you have asked students to do some research about Grand Canyon National Park. As part of the research, extend to students the idea to use Google Earth to begin their research. Not only will Google Earth take them to that location, but they will be able to find additional links for information, facts and video to enhance their understanding. They can even find information on other National Parks that would allow some compare and contrast opportunities. This type of research opens the window to learning opportunities, going well beyond the classroom text book and curriculum. Allow students to then connect with individuals that might live in that region or speak with a Park Ranger at Grand Canyon National Park using Google Hangouts. Learning in this manner moves students well beyond the classroom and allows them to engage in real time and in real ways with the materials they are covering.
2) Keep it simple. Connect with your colleagues and students across the hall first. Use Google Classroom to engage your students with other students. Common Core State Standards, which stress the use of technology to foster critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, can easily be met. Post a writing assignment which requires working with a student/partner in a different classroom. Have them collaborate on the response by creating shared documents that allows them to work together and comment without being face to face. Once work is completed, they simply click the “turn in” tab and Google Classroom helps teachers track the progress.